Thu, Oct 06, 2016 - Page 6 News List

Disposing of stolen Kardashian jewels not easy: experts

AFP, PARIS

Pulling off a US$10 million jewel heist is one thing — but finding a buyer is another, said experts, who predicted that the robbers who targeted Kim Kardashian would struggle to dispose of their loot.

Kardashian, the world’s highest-paid reality TV star, was held up at gunpoint in a luxury Paris apartment in the early hours of Monday.

The robbers made off with a ring worth 4 million euros (US$4.5 million) and a case of jewelry with a value of 5 million euros.

French Union of Jewelers and Watchmakers acting president Sandrine Marcot said the value of the haul would “crash” due to the media hype around the heist and the highly recognizable stolen goods.

“Everyone knows that ring. It won’t be easy to get rid of it,” a police source said.

Last week, Kardashian had posted a Twitter photograph of her left hand sporting a huge diamond sparkler — reportedly a 20-carat ring by Lorraine Schwartz given to her by her husband, rap star Kanye West.

“These are not everyday jewels. These are unique pieces,” Marcot said, predicting the spoils of the raid would be cut into smaller gems to conceal their origin.

Precious stones often come stamped with a laser mark, making them “extremely easy to trace,” Marcot said.

Some laser marks are so deep they are impossible to cover up, but others can be concealed by savvy polishing, making the stone “difficulty to identify, unlike, for example, a stolen painting,” the police source said.

In most cases, the robbers work with several intermediaries, including a shady jeweler in charge of whittling down the gem into less conspicuous stones, but a gem that has been recut is worth only a fraction of its initial value.

Kardashian’s ring could lose three-quarters of its value after being reworked, the police source said.

Yet, despite the difficulty in disposing of eye-popping jewels, they still exert a powerful pull on thieves, with Monday’s robbery the latest in a string of brazen heists in France in the past decade.

However, just stealing precious gems and rendering them unrecognizable does not make for the perfect crime.

Robbers also need to have connections in the jewelery business to get a good price for their spoils.

The gang that walked into the exclusive Harry Winston store in Paris in 2008 disguised as women, walking away with loot worth up to 85 million euros, failed miserably at the final hurdle.

Knowing nothing about jewelery, the leader of the gang from the Paris suburbs entrusted the sale to a friend.

His friend’s gem trading acumen proved rudimentary. In four deals, he managed to amass only 483,000 euros.

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